New discoveries in brain science can help American Job Centers transform human services delivery and increase personal mobility from poverty through three progressively comprehensive levels of program interventions that can be used separately or together to increase participant gains:

-Level 1: Environment and Process Improvements Informed by Brain Science
-Level II: Case-Management Approaches Enhanced by Brain Science
-Level III: Coach-Navigator Interventions Based on Brain Science

New discoveries in brain science can help American Job Centers transform human services delivery and increase personal mobility from poverty through three progressively comprehensive levels of program interventions that can be used separately or together to increase participant gains:

Level I: Environment and Process Improvements Informed by Brain Science
These strategies focus on leveraging our understanding of how the brain works, especially under stress, to design tools, processes, and environments that support better brain functioning and self-regulation, in turn making it easier for participants to succeed. Examples include environmental design that minimizes distractions and fosters personal control and privacy, and program elements that incorporate prompts, reminders, and other behavioral techniques to encourage positive behaviors.

Level II: Case-Management Approaches Enhanced by Brain Science
These strategies focus on using brain science findings to improve the professional skills of human services staff working with low-income people, so participants may better engage in programs and optimize outcomes. Examples include training staff on techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy that can help participants override deep-seated negative thoughts, impulses, and behaviors.

Level III: Coach-Navigator Interventions Based on Brain Science
Whereas the goal of Level I and II strategies is to improve participants’ performance in a given human services program, the coach navigator approaches are designed to support the participant in improving problem-solving and goal attainment across the multiple program domains necessary to complete the pathway out of poverty. Over time, Level III interventions improve participants’ executive functioning to the point that coaching is no longer necessary. Examples include Mobility Mentoring, research on a coaching model has shown to help participants understand how their decisions interconnect and consider longer-term needs over a range of areas critical to long-term economic success, including family stability, health, financial management, education, and employment.

Major Findings & Recommendations

  1. Scale coach-navigator interventions. Expand the availability of brain science–based level III coach-navigator interventions supporting individuals’ full journey out of poverty with goals-based tools and processes. Such interventions show promise for creating significant economic mobility gains up to and including the attainment of full economic independence. They do this by helping participants navigate and improve outcomes across the multiple domains necessary for economic mobility and improving the decision-making and behavior management skills undermined by the stresses of poverty.
  2. Educate the field. Provide large-scale, multifaceted mechanisms to educate government and nonprofit organizations on how poverty affects human development, decision-making, and behavior and the ways this brain science evidence base can be applied to improve economic mobility through public systems, programs, and participant outcomes. Recommended mechanisms include publications, conferences, education and training programs, web-based information dissemination, and online learning.
  3. Strengthen existing providers. Support the development and expansion of centers of excellence that can provide direct technical assistance to government and nonprofit organizations on implementing level I–III brain science–based approaches and improving organizational implementation.
  4. Evaluate and share best practices. Support the rigorous internal and external evaluation of all the above recommendations, and capture process and outcomes data in a manner that supports ongoing organizational improvement, evolution of practice, and capacity building. Disseminate key learning through systematic education and field-building activities.